In 1678 John Bunyon wrote the quintessential classic spiritual work, A Pilgrim’s Progress. It is my understanding that this piece has since been translated into more than 200 languages and has never been out of print. Pretty impressive. It’s a book that was required reading back at Riley High School in Mr. Covert’s English class, back when you could still openly read a religious book in the classroom as part of a required reading list for the well rounded student. I wonder how many high schoolers today have cracked the cover of this gem?
Christian is the main character, the protagonist. The story is about his allegorical journey from his hometown known as The City of Destruction, which symbolizes this present world, to a place known as the Celestial City, representing all that is indicitive of that which is to come beyond his current awareness. Along the way he of course encounters trials and tribulations, meeting interesting people with names like Obstinate, Pliable, Help, Goodwill, Watchful, Giant Despair, Discretion and Appllyon, to name but a few. You can get an idea of what their roles are by their names and you can sort of guess about Christian’s allegorical adventures and spiritual evolution as he travels to such places as Wicked Gate, The King’s Highway, the Village of Morality and Mount Sinai. It’s a “page turner” as they say.
This week, Anthony and I began our own Pilgrim’s Progress journey to a specialist at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis; one of a slight handful of places that are knowledgeable in the management and treatment of Crohn’s Disease. The one doctor we seek also conducts extensive research most of the time while seeing patients only 2 days a week. With the help of my Crohn’s guardian angel, Trudy, who provided names and direct line phone numbers into the heart of a very complicated referral process, we got our appointment in Indianapolis for February 15th, through Anthony’s primary care provider. ( Trudy would be “Help” in Pilgrim’s Progress – the one who rescues Christian from the Slough of Despond, “a very miry slough” or in my world a very miry quagmire of medical smoke and mirrors.)
As we prepare to leave for Indianapolis, writing down questions, re-ordering our daily lives, paying bills ahead, getting coverage at work and wondering who will feed the cats, I am for the second time heartened to know that God is in charge because we got this referral so easily; Trudy tells horror stories of getting her referral for Jeremy. This referral couldn’t come any sooner. Despite that small miracle at the hospital with the CAT scan about a week ago, Anthony is still in severe pain, unable to sleep more than an hour or so at a time. At least now, we have a name for the pain and only because I stood my ground by demanding proper medical treatment for Anthony.
The pain is called Ostemyelitis. It has taken foothold in over 65% of his bone structure all because some doctor (one of many in the shuffle of trying to get this kid initial help), just medicated the symptom, didn’t look deep enough, didn’t listen when Anthony tried to tell him about the pain. I have to let my anger over that monsterous medical oversight go if I am to keep the faith for that 3 hour drive down U.S 31 to our version of Christian’s Celestial City, where for the couple of days we take up residence while Anthony has more tests, is poked and prodded with needles. He hates needles. I have to believe that if God knows the very number of hairs on Anthony’s head, as the Bible says, then surely He knows my baby is in pain from a dreaded infection stemming from a mysterious source, not seen, yet lurking inside Anthony’s body like a thief poised to steal his health. And to top off the pain, let’s not forget the orginal problem that his intestinal system is all jacked up. Let’s not forget the Crohns.
And on top of all this, I wonder in amazement and anger – what in the heck do people do in this country of ours who have no access to health insurance, no advocate to fight for them, no Trudy, no Help to guide them out of the City of Destruction? What do they do? You tell me because I can’t even begin to know how answer that one. I only know that something is seriously wrong in America, the richest nation on the planet. I can, however, count my blessings that we have insurance for now. Thank you to President Obama for passing legislation that grants access for adult children to their parents’ health care plans. What we will do if we cannot connect to another health care plan soon, I do not know. I can’t go there. I can only trust that the way will be made clear and safe.
So as I pack and prepare, mentally and spiritually, I start one of my conversations with God. God and I are tight so it’s OK when I look Him in the face (prosopon in the Biblical Greek – face to face, eyeball to eyeball) and say, “OK. We’re stepping out in faith here, God. Do your thing and please get this child some help in the form of an amazing medical team, significant help. I am one pissed off mom right now and you don’t want to mess with that.” (Like I said; it’s OK – me and God – we’re tight.)
And so it is as Anthony and I turn the page in our copy of A Pilgrim’s Progress.